Five Things about Holy Week!

Today is Holy Saturday.  For this edition of 5 Random Things this Week I want to share about Holy Week!

1. Three years ago I wrote a post about Holy Week called Going to Church (a Lot).   What I wrote 3 years ago still applies to me today.

Why do we go to church so much this week? Well, these are special services that are only offered during Holy Week. For me they help me to focus on Christ’s mission here on earth and in a way that I can not explain with words, the services allow me to join with Him. It starts for me on Palm Sunday. Liturgically we are outside of time and we experience the triumphant entry of Christ into Jerusalem.

2.  The Bridegroom Matins service remains one of my most favorite of all the services I have ever been too.  One of these years I might surprise myself and not cry but this was not the year.

Bridegroom Matins

3.  This Holy Week has been very difficult as we do not have our van and we are borrowing the car of dear friends.  This means we do not all fit in the car.  We've been rotating who goes to what services. It has worked out but it's just not the way I planned it to be.

4.  Holy Friday Matins served on Thursday evening takes us through Christ's Passion Week.  We have 12 Gospel Readings that take us through that week.  At around Gospel reading number 5 the Priests (Priest, I guess if you only have one, but we have more!) bring out the cross with the icon of Christ.  It is a solemn moment as we are outside of time and space and liturgically we are right there when our Lord is crucified.

5.  I have a secret.  Now of course once I write it, it won't be a secret anymore but you won't tell on me right?  Third Stasis (Tone three) of the Praises of the Matins of Holy Saturday (served Friday night), always makes me giggle.  Why on earth would singing lines like "O Son of God and King of all my God and my creator how canst Thou endure such suffering?"

Well I giggle because as we move through the service we move from the death of Christ upon the Cross and His burial to the praises of why he suffered for us and we begin to anticipate His Holy Resurrection.  I don't know if is because it is Tone Three or some other reason but it has a happier feel to it.  I can't help but smile.  The melody fits such lines as this: "By dying, O my God, Thou hast put death to death, through Thy divine power."



Five Random Things This Week April 22nd

So it's been a week!  It must be time  for a Five Random Things This Week post!

5 Random Things This Week at Circling Through This Life

1.  This week Great Lent ended. I am not ready for Great Lent to be over because I don't just don't feel like I prepared myself for Pascha. Thankfully we still have Holy Week.

2.  Dumbledore, our van, ~ yes, Supergirl named him after a certain character ~ broke down on the side of the road last week leaving Honeybear stranded.  The tow truck brought both Dumbledore and Honeybear home. He's at the "car hospital" now, ~ Dumbledore the van, not Honeybear ~ awaiting a transmission transplant.

3. 16 years ago April 23rd was a Sunday.  It wasn't just any Sunday though.  It was Easter Sunday (I wasn't even remotely Orthodox then so it was Western Easter).  It was also the day that Tailorbear walked independently.  She had been walking holding on to the wall or someone's hand but had not taken really been walking.  We had a canister vacuum back then and she would even hold on to it and push it around to walk.  On this day though, she let go and walked.  Unlike her older sisters there were no hesitating first steps.  She had been practicing for so long that she just let go and walked clear across the room.  I was on the phone with my mom (it was Easter after all!).  I do remember when my other girls walked. But not the dates.  Just the general month.

4. Saturday April 23rd is Lazarus Saturday for the most of the Eastern Orthodox Church.  On this day we sing one of my all time favorite hymns.  Rejoice, O Bethany.  I love that hymn so much that I wrote a blog post about last year on Lazarus Saturday!

Palm Sunday

5. Sunday April 24th is Palm Sunday which is the feast of Christ’s triumphal Entry into Jerusalem. It is one of the 12 Great Feasts of the church.  It is closely tied to Lazarus Saturday because it is the raising of Lazarus that caused the people to cry out Hosanna and hail Jesus as the long awaited ande expected Messiah-King.  One of the special hymns for this day (the troparion) displays the connection between Lazarus, the universal resurrection, and Palm Sunday.

By raising Lazarus from the dead before Thy passion, Thou didst confirm the universal resurrection, O Christ God! Like the children with the branches of victory, we cry out to Thee, O Vanquisher of Death: Hosanna in the highest! Blessed is he that comes in the name of the Lord!
I am nearly certain that next week's Five Random Things will not be so Random.  I am sure that I my heart and mind will be filled with Holy Week!


Copywork Isn't Just for Handwriting Practice! {Crew Review}

Many years ago I participated in a yahoo email group with some amazing women. Amy Blevins, creator and owner of Homeschool Copywork is one of those amazing women. Amy has a heart and passion for homeschooling. Amy is also a former Schoolhouse Review Crew member so I was tickled when I found out that Amy was offering her Lifetime Membership to crew members for review.

What is Copywork?

Copywork is a very old method of teaching grammar, punctuation, spelling, vocabulary, and penmanship. Copywork can be a stepping stone for young children to help them transition to dictation.

Amy has a page dedicated to talking about what copywork is and the benefits of copywork.  One of the things I hadn't thought about but that she points out is that copywork is a great way to influence your child's thinking by putting great quotes and carefully chosen scripture verses in their copywork.

Copywork can also be a creative outlook by drawing or coloring images on the page and by practicing more artistic styles of penmanship.

Turtlegirl uses copywork as means of artstic expression!

Lifetime Membership!

Through Homeschool Copywork, Amy offers three levels of membership:  Free,  Full, and Lifetime!   The Free Level of membership gives you access to a limited number of copywork and Charlotte Mason resources.  The Full Membership is valid for one year and includes full access to all membership areas.  We were given the Lifetime Membership which includes all the free resources and access to all of the paid membership areas plus any and all bonus items. Lifetime Membership is valid for as long as Homeschool Copywork exists. This is an excellent value as Amy continues to add resources to the membership area and currently there are 54 ebooks!

Cover image of Dragons of the Bible created by Amy Blevins

Once you become a member and log in you'll find that Amy has organized the member area to make it easier to find just what you need.   I can click on any of the tabs to choose a category and see what is available or I can scan through the list of active ebooks.

Copywork resources are organized into these tabs:
  • Bonus Products ~  which include items such as Transportation Notebooking pages!
  • Junior High-High School Copywork ~ Authors, Poets, Scripture, and more!
  • Upper Elementary Copywork ~ I found lots of hymns and musicians as well artists with some overlap of a few of the copywork resources for older students
  •  Early Elementary Copywork ~ Many of the other titles are found here as well as some titles specifically for the younger ones such as themed alphabet copywork resources

How We've Been Using Homeschool Copywork

Each of my three girls still at home are using different copywork resources. Supergirl is using the My Animal Alphabet Copywork Pages to practice coloring and printing.  We'll be using the various composer copywork pages as we study the composers in our music appreciation course.

Turtlegirl is using the the Dragons of the Bible  as a form of artistic expression. She works on a page to relax and be creative.  She chose to use the illumination technique she learned. She also is planning to make use of the Emily Dickinson and Lewis Carroll Copywork pages because she loves poetry.

Turtlegirl copies the verse!

Tailorbear has been studying poetry in her English class so she choose Winds of Play: Quotes from Elizabeth Barrett Browning for Copywork.  She is less enthused than her sister but I think she is benefiting from the extra penmanship and the beauty of the quotes!

Tailorbear has copywork, too!

Final Thoughts

These copywork resources are not just quotes or poems or scripture to copy.  Some of these e-books include biographies and activities.  Many include notebooking pages or pages for coloring!  This is a treasure trove of goodies for those who use copywork and notebooking in their home schools!  Unsure about whether you want to jump into a Lifetime Membership?  Start with a Free Membership to see the quality of the compilations Amy has done and when you're hooked and wanting more you can purchase a paid membership!

Homeschool Copywork Review


5 Random Things This Week April 15th

If I want my 5 Things on Friday to actually post on a Friday, maybe, just maybe I should write them on Thursday bwhahahah.  Seriously, it's the end of the weekend.  So how about we go with  5 Things This Week?  Yes.  Yes I think that works better.  So 5 Things This Week and it will post sometime Thursday- Sunday.  Sound good?  Good.  Let's get to it then:

1.  3 years ago I was scrambling to help Boobear with college decisions and high school graduation plans.  Now it is Turtlegirl's time!  She'll be graduating from high school this June and in the fall, she plans to become a Cougar.  So I'll have a Black and Gold Lute and a Red and White Cougar.

Turtlegirl made her choice for college!

2.  One of the reasons graduation is heavy on my mind this week is that I posted a review of HomeschoolDiploma.com.  These are high quality professional documents!  We ordered a cap and gown as well as a Diploma for Turtlegirl.  We also ordered a back dated diploma for Boobear.  I am already thinking ahead to next year when Tailorbear will graduate.  I'm certain she'll want a "real" diploma too!

Read my review of HomeschoolDiploma.com at Circling Through This LIfe

3.  I love April and May in th Pacific Northwest!  These are the months full of new life, gorgeous sunshine, and nearly perfect days.  Highs in the low 70's.  Gentle breezes.  And blooming bushes!

It's Spring in the Pacifc Northwest!

4.  I love soup.  My husband? Not so much.  I think I might have thrown together a soup that he will actually enjoy!  I'm calling it Tomato Curry Soup.  It's a good one for Lent as it can be made vegan.  I'm thinking it could be a Wednesday night thing when it's not Great Lent.  Recipe?  Maybe I'll get around to posting it after I tweak it a bit and get some photos.

5. I work with a team of amazing ladies who inspire and encourage me.  I believe that God has brought the 5 of us together for more than just leading the Schoolhouse Review Crew.  He's brought us together to help of us grow.  I might have to write a blog post to introduce each of them but for now you can click on the Crew Leadership page of the Schoolhouse Review Crew blog. Go visit their blogs!  They are incredible women!


Graduation Day is Coming! Do You Have a Diploma to Present?

(As a member of the Schoolhouse Review Crew I received a diploma from HomeschoolDiploma.com in exchange for a review)

When BooBear graduated 3 years ago, I wanted to give her a fancy, beautiful, professional looking diploma but I couldn't find what I was looking for exactly and couldn't figure out how to create one myself.  She did get a piece of paper presented to her but it just wasn't the same.

2013 Dad presnets BooBear with her printed paper homemade diploma
In 2013 Boobear got a home made printed diploma!

Now it's Turtlegirl's turn to graduate. Unlike her older sister though she'll get presented with a beautiful, professionally printed Exclusive High School Diploma from HomeschoolDiploma.com.

HomeschoolDiploma.com, a family-owned and operated business, is a professional graduation supply company.  In addition to quality diplomas, they offer caps and gowns, class rings, graduation announcements, and more to home schools and small Christian schools.  Their goal is "to serve homeschooling families and small Christian schools with products and service that will honor our Lord, Jesus Christ."

HomeschoolDiploma.com provided us with a coupon code that allowed us to order one diploma but also gave us free shipping if we placed an order for any other items at the same time. I was thrilled to be able to order a Standard High School Diploma for Boobear backdated to her graduation year.

Boobears "real" diploma from HomeschoolDiploma.com

I purchased the Exclusive High School Diploma as part of a set with a cap and gown.  The cap and gown set that I ordered will not be available after this season but they have other cap and gown styles sold separately and as part of a package with a diploma.

I was thrilled at the variety of diplomas offered. They have the Standard, Vintage Style with embossed seal, Vintage Style with engraved seal, Personalized, Exclusive, and Gilded. Each of those are 8 1/2 x 11 and come with a padded cover. The Standard, Personalized, and Exclusive Diplomas are also available in a smaller 6 x 8 size also with a padded cover.  HomeschoolDiploma.com has a handy chart to show the difference between 4 of the styles. The chart does not apply to the Vintage style diploma.

You can even get package set on a cap, gown and diploma!

When I graduated from high school, my diploma came with a little laminated wallet sized copy.  I don't know what happened to mine but I do remember being so proud of it and carrying it around in my wallet for awhile. I never needed it but I liked having it. In case you were wondering, yes, HomeschoolDiploma.com offers Wallet Diplomas too.   I do need to point out though that the Wallet Diploma is not sold separately. It is only available as an option when you purchase the larger diploma. Adding the Wallet Sized Diploma is an optional add-on for all the different styles offered.

Did I mention that with those padded covers you have choices there too?  Not just choice of colors, though both my girls chose black, but choices of with words or blank, with a seal or no seal. For an additional cost you can add the student's name to the cover. Boobear opted for a simple black cover with High School Diploma whereas Turtlegirl chose the seal to match her diploma.

Speaking of choices, let's chat about all those choices you have with the diplomas. Earlier I linked the chart with the differences for 4 of the styles.  The primary differences between the styles are the seals and the wording. You'll want to look at all the seal options and the different wording options. I suggest checking out the Buyers Guide to see the different options. The Standard Diploma has the fewest choices so if you want to customize it a bit more, you'll want to choose the Personalized or the Exclusive.

The Standard Diploma is a great choice if you do not have the extra money for the the other choices. It's a great choice if you prefer a more secular traditional wording and if you do not need to customize the signature lines. With the Standard Diploma I was still able to personalize it a bit with our school name, and city and state. I could still choose to add an honors seal.

With the Exclusive High School Diploma, I had four styles of wordings to choose form and each style had at least two variations. I do really like the traditional wording that is on the Standard Diploma and I was thrilled I could get that wording but with the variation that added "in accordance with the regulations of the state of . . ." to the sentence "has completed the necessary requirements." Like with the Standard Diploma, I was able to add an Honors Sticker for Turtlegirl.

Because I chose the variation of the wording from the Standard Diploma for Turtlegirl's Exclusive High School Diploma, the biggest difference between the two I ordered is the seals. Both styles offer a choice of seals but the Standard Diploma only offers embossed foiled stickers where as the Exclusive offers foiled and engraved stickers.

The Standard Diploma is impressive and professional looking, but it is basic. If you want more choices go with the Exclusive or Personalized. I'm not unhappy with the Standard. It more than meets the needs of Boobear and she really likes it.  It's high quality and wonderful, but I really love the choices and the extra something special with the foiled and engraved seal vs the embossed foil.

High School Diplomas for your homeschooled student!

I'll be needing another high school diploma for 2017. I know I'll be ordering it from HomeschoolDiploma.com.

Several members of the Review Crew also received a high school diploma to review.  Click on the banner to read what they have to say about HomeschoolDiploma.com

Exclusive High School Diploma Review


Five Random Things ~ April 9th

I had every intention of posting one of these last week but well the road to youknowwhere is paved with those good intentions right? And then I had every intention of posting this on Friday but I posted a review of Stopmotion Explosion so I thought oh I'll post it on Saturday.  As you can see that didn't happen because today is Sunday.

1.  Turtlegirl is down to crunch time and has to make a decision about which university she wants to attend.  Last weekend most of us made a very long 3 day/2 night trip to visit a campus on the other side of the state.  Yesterday, she with her father and Tailorbear, was visiting another campus much closer to home but still a couple of hours away.

Turtlegirl and her Daddy explore the College Campus!  Five Random Things at circling Through This LIfe!
Turtlegirl and her Daddy explore the college campus!

2. While Turtlegirl, Tailorbear, and Honeybear made the 3 hour (one way) trip to visit the college campus, Boobear traveled with the Campus Ministry group from her college to an Orthodox Monastery.  She was delighted when Abbot Tryphon remembered her.  As is his custom he included a photo of the visit in his The Morning Offering blog today.  I am always encouraged by reading his posts.

3.  I've been thinking I needed to do more "neurodevelopment" type activities with Supergirl.  God must have peeked into my heart because the Schoolhouse Review crew is reviewing Linguistic Development through Poetry Memorization by Andrew Pudewa.  As a crew leader I received a copy of the program so that I can do my job, but I might end up writing a review even though I do not have to!

4.  Speaking of reviews, did you catch my review of Logic of English?  I reviewed the Level A of Foundations.  We started out at a slower pace and now we are doing 1 lesson a day, 3-4 days a week. Since Supergirl is already reading cvc words, but isn't fluent, I'm adding in "read to mom" as part of our daily schedule.  She needs practice reading real books to increase her fluency.
5.  I know the calendar says April but I think my brain is still stuck in February or maybe early March but not mid-April!  Pascha is about as late as it can be this year but my brain still can't wrap around the fact that it is 3 weeks from today.  Palm Sunday is just two weeks away! 


Making Movies with Stopmotion Explosion! {Crew Review}

{Through the Schoolhouse Review Crew I was given the opportunity to review the Stopmotion Explosion Animation Kit available from Stopmotion Explosion.}

Read the Stopmotion Animation Kit Review at Circling Through This LIfe

A long long time ago I came home from class at the community college and found my parents sitting on the patio.  It was a beautiful spring day.  I had some life changing news to share with them and I wasn't sure how they were going to take it. I told them I was changing majors.  I was dropping the Pre-Law path and I was seeking a Fine Arts in Theater.  My mother shocked me.  She had been waiting for me to figure it out.  My parents were incredibly supportive.

Setting up stories, choosing angles, picking a theme or moment to frame for the audience thrilled me. My love for telling stories and sharing moments, my love for theater? It seems to have passed to my children. They would put on plays and beg me to record them with the old video camera.  Eventually we got a digital camera that also allowed for taking videos and not just stills. Tailorbear would be the driving force and would make videos of her horse collection or she would grab Supergirl or Turtlegirl and they would make movies.

Combining Tailorbear's love of making videos with her love of drawing and her new desire to learn animation and I have a daughter begging to try creating with the Stopmotion Explosion Animation Kit.

The Stopmotion Explosion Animation Kit ~  A great way to introduce stop motion animation to beginners!

Stop motion animation is the technique used to make physical objects appear to move. Instead of making hundreds and thousands of drawings depicting movement, an object is photographed, moved a tiny bit, photographed again.  The process is repeated until you have hundreds (or thousands!) of frames.

The Stopmotion Explosion Complete Animation Kit is perfect for the beginning animator because it includes everything you need to get started:
  • The book:  Stopmotion Explosion: Animate ANYTHING and Make MOVIES by Nate Eckerson  
  • Stopmotion Explosion Quick Start Guide
  • Stopmotion Explosion Software Disc
  • 720p HD Video Camera 

The Book:

The book begins with a fascinating chapter on "How Movies Work" which details the beginning of animation. With 17 chapters total readers will learn the process of animation from choosing animation actors, creating stories, and building sets.  There are chapters on cameras, lighting, and composition. It even includes information on sound, files and formats, and video editing.

The Camera:

The camera is a 720p  HD web camera. It has a manual focus, a 4 ft cord, and a clip for securing the camera. It also has a built in microphone and can be used with other programs that use a web camera such as Skype.

Quick Start Guide:

This contains instructions for both Windows and OS X.  The Quick Start Guide contains an introduction to topics that are covered more in depth in the book. The guide is to get started quickly.

The Software Disk:

This is a treasure cove of goodies! In addition to the SME application to use with the camera, there is a Sound Effect Collection folder and the Audacity application. You'll also find a template you can use for creating storyboards and some sample movies.

Our Experience:

Both Tailorbear and Turtlegirl were very excited to get started. They jumped in right away skimming the Quick Start Guide and set up the camera and the SME application. Tailorbear learns best by doing so she started experimenting immediately to see how it works. She choose to animate a small bottle first. "Mom this is so cool!  Watch the Oregano Oil walk across the desk!"

Tailorbear makes an adjustment during the filming of He Just Wanted to Read a Book!

Tailorbear is using this as part of a 1/2 credit course on Film Animation. She is taking what she learns from the Stopmotion Explosion book and combing it with 2D Manga.  Her long term project is to create an anime using Manga style drawings and stop motion technology.  Think animated paper dolls. 

Tailorbear and Turtlegirl worked together to create an animated short using stuffed animals. They came up with a basic plot, chose actors and created a set of sorts. I like how the tail wags in this video:

They created another short inspired by the one above.  With this one they added text to the video using the recommended Windows Movie Maker application. This application can also be used to add a musical score but we've chosen not to add music to our public videos because of copyright and licensing issues. This is also addressed in the Sound chapter of the book.

We're still learning and experimenting with the basics such as lighting and focusing the camera.  Tailorbear is creating some backdops for us.  I'm not really sure who has enjoyed this most: mom or the kids.  Yes, even I have tried my hand at animating things.  I rather like my Pizza Roll Dance attempt but my Sea Monsters at the Beach is rather a flop.

Supergirl did not want to be left out of the fun so she and I created this animation. Turtlegirl helped us with some finishing touches!

Thoughts From Turtlegirl:

I really appreciate how simple this made stop motion. Before Stopmotion Explosion, I thought that stop motion animation was incredibly, impossibly complex, and that I would never be able to do it at home. I loved being able to animate my bear reading a book, or swiping at other stuffed animals. I also loved learning how frames and frame rates worked via experimenting with the included animation program.

Final Thoughts

I think this is a wonderful kit for a beginner. It is listed for ages 13+ but I think if mom or dad or an older sibling is available in case assistance is needed, children as young as 8 could easily start animating their toys. Do click on the banner below to read more reviews of Stopmotion Explosion!

Stopmotion Explosion Review

Crew Disclaimer